Update on latest round of Gaza terror: Over 60 rockets fired; 7 Israelis injured

Report collated from the Israeli media and the blog ‘This Ongoing War edited by Arnold and Frimet Roth

Israelis run for cover after rocket sirens are triggered in Ashkelon

  • On Saturday night, Nov. 10, terrorist forces in Gaza fired an anti-tank missile that hit an IDF jeep patrolling 200 meters inside the Israeli border with Gaza near the Karni border crossing. Four soldiers were injured, and two are in serious condition (one with shrapnel wounds to the head).

A wounded Israeli soldier is evacuated by ambulance in southern Israel on Saturday. | Photo credit: AP

  • On Saturday night, Tzeva Adom (Code Red) warnings were blaring in the cities of Ashdod, Ashkelon, Netivot, Sderot, Gedera, Yavne, Kiryat Malachi and Beit Gamliel, as well as in the Sha’ar Hanegev, Eshkol, Lachish and Sdot Negev regions.  
  • In addition to the injuries to IDF soldiers, three civilians have been injured by rocket shrapnel.
  • ‘Credit’ was claimed by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) for the initial round of rockets, but the IDF believes Islamic Jihad is behind most of the attacks. 
  • The so-called Al-Mujahideen brigades (which likely means the Mujahideen Shura Council of Jerusalem, a terrorist group that claims to be affiliated with Al-Qaeda) is claiming responsibility for 2 of the rockets fired into Israel.
  • The Popular Resistance Committee said it had fired four rockets at Israeli communities close to the Gaza border and at Sderot and Netivot.
  • Hamas, which controls Gaza, published an announcement saying all Israeli military targets (meaning civilian targets) are “legitimate” objects of attack.
  • Islamic Jihad announced on Saturday that it “…will not give the Zionist enemy calm for free… The Resistance cannot sit idly by. Our message to the foe is that it will be bombardment for bombardment, blood for blood…”.
  • Israeli Channel 2 reported on Saturday that “recent cross-border fire from Gaza had included highly accurate Katyusha rockets, capable of doing far more damage than previous rocket fire”.

  • Overnight, the IDF carried out well-targeted air assaults on several Gazan targets involved in yesterday’s attacks against Israeli civilians: a Palestinian weapons manufacturing facility, two weapons storage facilities, and two rocket-launching sites in northern Gaza.  
Thus far, there are no reports on the latest round of Palestinian terror on the Israel, Palestinian territories, or Gaza pages of the Guardian.
(Update: A few minutes ago, at 14:45 Israeli time, the Guardian published an AP report on the latest terror from Gaza)

Six more Palestinian ‘building inspectors’. Again, no context.

Sept. 10 edition of the Guardian’s ‘Picture Desk Live: the best news pictures of the day’ included the following photo of six Palestinians “inspecting” a destroyed building in Gaza:

Here’s the Guardian’s caption:

Palestinians inspect the damage to a building after an Israeli air strike in Nuseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. Photograph: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters

The caption failed to mention the attack against Israel which precipitated the IDF operation – a grad rocket launched from Gaza that morning which destroyed a house in Netivot and injured several Israelis – nor that the building in Nuseirat was reportedly a weapons manufacturing facility.

Today’s edition of the Guardian’s ‘Picture Desk Live’, Oct. 29, once again featured the work of six Palestinian ‘building inspectors’.

Here’s the caption:

Palestinians inspect the damage to a building following an Israeli attack in al-Bureij, in the centre of the Gaza Strip. Photograph: Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images

Guardian readers would be forgiven for not knowing that the IDF operation was a response to several grad rockets which were fired into southern Israel by Popular Resistance Committee terrorists on Oct. 28.

This latest Palestinian attack followed a barrage of more than 70 rockets fired into Israel by Hamas and Popular Resistance Committees on Oct. 24 and 25 which seriously damaged homes and critically wounded two foreign workers in the Eshkol Region.  

Over 150 rockets have been fired into Israel from Gaza in October alone, and more than 610 so far in 2012.

Harriet Sherwood runs interference for Hamas in report on latest rocket barrage from Gaza

Beginning on Tuesday night, Oct. 24, Hamas and other terrorists in Gaza launched over 70 rockets into Israel. Two workers were injured severely when a rocket hit a farm near Kissufim, and three other civilians were lightly injured. (Several buildings were also extensively damaged by the attacks.)

Here’s a partial record of the attacks.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

20:00: In one hourthree rocketsfired from Gaza hit Eshkol Regional Council in southern Israel.

21:30: In another two hours, this number rose to six rockets, all in Eshkol Regional Council.

22:30: Israel Air Force aircraft successfully targeted a rocket launch squad in Gaza which was in its final stages of preparation to fire rockets.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

00:40: second rocket launch attempt in northern Gaza was successfully thwarted by Israel Air Force aircraft — the second attempt in two hours.

05:30: Third rocket launch attempt was thwarted by the Israel Air Force.

07:00:  A barrage of 40 rockets was fired from Gaza, striking communities in southern Israel. Two farm workers were critically wounded and evacuated to a nearby hospital.

09:20: As of this time, over 65 rockets were fired from Gaza into southern Israel today. The Iron Dome system intercepted seven rockets aimed at major Israeli cities.

13:15: 4 more rockets fired from Gaza hit southern Israel, upping the count to 72 rockets since midnight.

16:05 Another rocket hit Hof Ashkelon Regional Council, making the rocket count 73. Throughout the day, injured Palestinians were transferred from the Gaza Strip to Israel for medical treatment.

Click here to see photos of the damage

The following Guardian photo, was posted at 12:15 on Wednesday – at the time representing the Guardian’s only report devoted to the rocket barrage – as part of thein the Guardian’s daily ‘Picture Desk Live‘ series.  It was posted after news of the three injured workers in Israel had already been reported.

The caption of Palestinians grieving over body of al-Shikh fails to note that, according to AFP, the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) acknowledged that Al-Sheikh was indeed a PRC operative.  Additionally, al-Shikh was reportedly “engaged in firing rockets into Israeli territory at the time of his death.”

Later, Harriet Sherwood reported on the rocket attack, in a post titled ‘Gaza-Israel shelling resumes after departure of Qatari emir‘, Oct. 24, which began with the following passages:

“More than 70 rockets have been fired into southern Israel from Gazasince the departure on Tuesday of the emir of Qatar, whose visit to the Gaza Strip was seen as a boost for its ruling faction, Hamas. Three foreign agricultural workers were injured and several buildings were hit.

Four militants were killed in resurgent Israeli air strikes overnight as a short period of calm ended. Three were members of Hamas’s military wing, the Ezzedin al-Qassam brigades, according to reports on its website.”

Hamas, which normally distances itself from rocket fire from Gaza, has claimed responsibility for some operations in recent days. [emphasis added]

Hamas is also under pressure from more radical organisations within Gaza, which may explain its unusual open participation in this latest round of violence. “Hamas feels a tension between the need to be a government [in Gaza] and the need to be part of the resistance [to Israel].

Sherwood’s claims are extremely misleading, if not outright false.

As with the AFP story cited above, many news reports have cited PRC as one of the parties responsible for the latest barrage of rockets into Israel. Indeed Hamas and PRC claimed joint responsibility for the attacks.

More importantly, Popular Resistance Committees, a small terrorist organization with “extensive operational capabilities”, is largely controlled, financed, and trained by Hamas. In fact several years ago it split into three factions, “two of which collaborate with Hamas and in effect operate under its aegis.

According to the IDF, Hamas uses PRC as a means of continuing “resistance” against Israel “while being able to claim that it is not involved in the PRC’s terrorist activities.” (Since their founding in 2000, PRC attacks have been responsible for the murder of at least 10 Israelis).

Further, Hadar Sela wrote the following in a recent BBC Watch post: 

“Even when Hamas has not been officially engaged in terror attacks or the firing of rockets itself, it has turned a blind eye to such activities by other groups and largely made no attempt to prevent them. As de facto ruler of the Gaza Strip, it has also done nothing to prevent the flow of arms to various factions within the territory. 

In June 2012, some 80 rockets were fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip over a four-day period, with Hamas taking responsibility for the attacks.”

So, Sherwood’s claim in her recent report, that “Hamas…normally distances itself from rocket fire from Gaza”, is simply not true.

Hamas may have developed a certain pragmatism, motivated by the desire to survive, by contracting out much of their terror activities to other groups, thus allowing for a degree of plausible deniability when attacks are launched from the territory they control.

But, such a nakedly deceptive strategy, of course, requires the acquiescence of those in the media who would accept Hamas’s claims at face value.

In Harriet Sherwood, Hamas has found such a dupe.

The anti-Zionist malice of ‘Comment is Free’ contributor Mya Guarnieri

At an October protest against legislation commonly referred to as the loyalty oath – a bill that would require non-Jews seeking Israeli citizenship to pledge allegiance to a “Jewish and democratic” state - Gavriel Solomon, a prominent academic and peace activist, likened Israel to Nazi Germany, circa 1935...That was the year that the Nuremberg Laws – racist legislation that led to the systematic and deadly persecution of Jews – were created….There were no [concentration] camps yet but there were racist laws,” he said. “And we are heading towards these kinds of laws.” [emphasis mine] – Mya Guarnieri, Al-Jazeera, Feb. 6, 2011

Mya Guarnieri is nothing if not ambitious.

In a 2010 ‘Comment is Free’ piece she characterized the bigoted comments of a few dozen Israelis as an event which portends the rise of a Jewish state lurching towards fascism. Her polemical crusade aspired to nothing less than saving the “very soul Judaism” – a quite messianic ambition for a secular Jew like Guarnieri, and even more impressive when you consider that our Hebrew-speaking activist’s goal of earthly salvation was executed in a quite thrifty 636 words!

It’s important to note that Guarnieri seems intent on saving “Judaism”, not Israel – the Jewish state whose stubborn wish to exist she fiercely opposes in the name of all that is sacred to her understanding of progressive values.

She supports, instead, a quite modest proposal: the radical reconstitution of the world’s only Jewish state into the 51st majority Muslim state, with Jews living as the minority.  

When Guarnieri isn’t calling for the demise of the 3rd Jewish Commonwealth, she can be seen, on the pages of Counterpunch all but calling for a new Intifada, warning that Israeli Jews are engaged in a ‘war of attrition against non-Jews‘, and suggesting that anti-BDS legislation passed by the Knesset was arguably “proto-fascist“. 

Guarnieri has even published an essay accusing Israel of institutionalized “destruction of Muslim religious properties” in the pro-Hezbollah propaganda site, Al-Akhbar.

So, it wasn’t at all surprising that ‘Comment is Free’ provided Ms. Guarnieri a platform to criticize Israel’s anti-terror operation against Zuhair al-Qaissi, in a manner thoroughly consistent with the Guardian’s recent egregiously biased coverage of both the IDF action, and subsequent Gaza rocket fire.

In “The killing of Zuhair al-Qaissi exposes Israel’s attitude to its supreme court” CiF, March 14, Guarnieri criticizes the killing of al-Qaissi – a senior Popular Resistance Committee operative responsible for planning a multi-pronged terror attack that was to take place via Sinai within a few days.

Guarnieri’s complaint centers around the fact that Israeli intelligence on the planned terrorist attack by al-Qaissi – who was among the leaders who planned, funded, and directed the combined terror attack that took place on Route 12 in August 2011, in which 8 Israelis were killed and 40  injured – was based on “secret evidence”.

Guarnieri’s piece deals with what she claims are Israeli violations of supreme court rulings more broadly. However, she argues, about the attack on the PRC leader, that though the court has indeed ruled in favor of such preemptive acts to prevent terror attacks, on a case-by-case basis, “depending on the evidence”, she counters that “…without seeing the security forces’ secret evidence, it’s impossible to know if al-Qaissi was indeed planning an attack.”

Of course, to treat Guarnieri as a serious interlocutor, and assume good faith in her query about Israeli intel on the PRC terrorist, would be an act of supreme foolishness – as most of what the “progressive” journalist writes represents merely anti-Zionist conclusions in search of supporting evidence. For Guarnieri, Israel’s sin is original and immutable – her polemical inquiries merely representing an edifice by which to impute guilt.

However, just as a point of comparison about a democracy’s right to protect its citizens from terror groups intent on murdering its citizens, the U.S. presents a good example.

The U.S. military, from 2004 till 2012, carried out 290 drone strikes in northwest Pakistan against al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders (attacks which have significantly increased in the Obama years), and killed between 1,778 and 2,764 people, of whom around 1,485 to 2,293 were terrorists. (So, roughly 17% of those killed are believed to have been civilians).

It’s important to note two things: First, such attacks (controlled by the Central Intelligence Agency’s Special Activities Division) are largely based on the desire to prevent potential attacks, as opposed to actionable intelligence that an attack was to be imminently launched on U.S. soil; And, evidence regarding the terror affiliations of the roughly 2000 terrorists killed are not made public by the U.S. military, nor subject to review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

However, beyond the specious legal arguments she puts forth, Guarnieri concludes that the IDF targeting of such PRC leaders represents “a war on Palestinians – and anyone that Israel deems an ‘other‘” [emphasis added] – that is, further evidence of Israeli racism.

About the Palestinian “other”:

The Popular Resistance Committees are trained, funded and provided weaponry by Hamas, refuses any form of reconciliation with Israel, and acts as a sub-contractor for Iranian and Hezbollah agents in Lebanon, carrying out terror attacks against Israelis in return for funding.

According to the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, PRC is split into three factions, two of which collaborate with Hamas and operate under its auspices. The third faction, called the Army of Islam, is affiliated with global jihad movements.

PRC has a radical Islamist ideology similar to Hamas, argues that Muslims are obligated to wage violent Jihad, and specifically believes that killing Israelis is the only way to “liberate” Palestine.

Finally, to further contextualize Guarnieri’s politics, she, in a piece for Mondoweiss in May of 2011, described Israel as “a place that is Jewish in numbers but utterly lacking a Jewish soul.” Zionism, she argues, “in [claiming] that the Jewish people cannot exist without [a Jewish] state, denies hundreds of years of Diaspora history, culture, and languages”, and is, therefore, itself, a form of antisemitism. 

The moral inversion is now complete. 

Guarnieri’s malign obsession with Israel is so intense that she views Zionists as the true antisemites – representing, by definition, a reactionary element which should inspire moral outrage – while terrorist groups who openly advocate the murder of Jews evoke progressive sympathy.

If you want to know how debased the anti-Zionist left has become, simply follow the supremely callous musings of Mya Guarnieri – whose lazy stereotypes (crude, ugly caricatures) about Israel, and Israelis, embody a movement’s hateful, and simply insatiable, fixation on the sins, real and imagined, of living Jews. 

Harriet Sherwood reports hearsay from Gaza: Lazy journalism, ideologically-driven or both?

On March 12th Harriet Sherwood filed a report from Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip which dealt extensively with the death of 15 year-old Nayif Qarmout.

Since her arrival in the region, one of the hallmarks of Sherwood’s reporting from the Middle East has been her unquestioning repetition of versions of stories told to her by partisan sources and the presentation of hearsay as fact. Typically, in this report Sherwood stated:

“The boys had set off for school but spotted some militants running away after firing a rocket. They went to investigate the launcher – perhaps out of simple teenage curiosity, perhaps to see if there was something they could salvage for sale. Then an explosion killed Nayif and injured five others.”

In the next sentence, Sherwood added:

“Israel denied it had carried out an air strike.”

Revealingly, she made no attempt to expand upon the Israeli announcement or to investigate the possibility that Qarmout might not have died as a result of an air strike, despite the fact that at the time of the publication of her report an AFP journalist on the scene had already reported that there was no evidence of such a strike.

“According to an AFP correspondent at the scene, there were no signs of any impact on the ground which could have been caused by a missile, with the most likely cause of his death being some kind of explosive device he was carrying.

The victim lost his legs in the blast and his body was covered with shrapnel wounds, he said.”

Pictures from the scene appear to support the opinion of the AFP reporter and the BBC also pointed to the lack of evidence of an Israeli strike.

Sherwood, however, continued her report by stating that:

“Nayif was one of 23 Palestinians killed since Friday in an escalating round of attack and counter-attack between militants in Gaza and the Israeli military.”

And later:

“Five civilians – two teenage boys, two men in their 60s and a woman aged 30 – are among the Gaza dead, since Israel assassinated a militant leader in order, it says, to prevent an attack aimed at its citizens.”

Sherwood not only neglected to inform her readers that the vast majority of those killed in the Gaza Strip were terrorists actively involved in shooting missiles at Israeli civilians (continuing to employ the sickening euphemism ‘militants’ to describe terrorists carrying out war crimes), but also failed to provide accurate background for the killing of Popular Resistance Committees leader Zuhir al Qaisi and the terror attack he and his organization were about to perpetrate.

Rather than lazily parroting the claims of Qarmout’s family and friends, any reporter worth their salt would have investigated the possibility raised by the AFP reporter that the youth’s injuries suggest that he may have been carrying an explosive device. It is, of course, common knowledge that terrorist groups – including the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which is one of the main players in this latest round of violence – recruit child soldiers.

Another potential factor totally ignored by Sherwood in her reports of civilian casualties in Gaza is the frequent falling short of rockets aimed at Israeli towns and villages. It is estimated that since the latest barrage began last Friday, some 50 rockets launched by the PRC or PIJ have landed inside the Gaza Strip, endangering the civilian population there.  

Sherwood’s highly emotive and superficial reporting is, of course, not benign. Unknown numbers of readers now believe that Nayif Qarmout was killed in an Israeli air strike despite there being no proof of that claim.

The question which Harriet Sherwood and her editors need to answer is why they chose to publish this non-evidence-based report when information pointing to its unreliability was already available and why no qualifying update has (at the time of writing) yet been added to Sherwood’s article. 

Guardian’s biased coverage of terrorist hostilities in Israel’s south: Numbers, headlines and photos

Since Friday, March 9, when hostilities between Israel and terrorists in Gaza began – upon the IDF’s disruption of a Popular Resistance Committee planned multi-pronged terror attack on Israel’s south, the Guardian has devoted 8 stories to the issue.

Total words and stories: 4485 words in eight separate pieces (including a video story)

Headlines sympathetic to Gaza/Palestinians: 7

Headlines sympathetic to Israel: 0  (One was neutral)

Story photos sympathetic to Gaza/Palestinians: 7

Story photos sympathetic to Israel: 1

Number of passages in the eight stories clearly sympathetic to Palestinians: 22

Number of passages in the eight stories clearly sympathetic to Israelis: 12

What the Guardian didn’t report or severely downplayed:

Number of rockets fired from Gaza since Friday: 303

Number of Israelis injured since start of hostilities: 17

Number of Palestinian terrorists killed since the start of hostilities out of 24 total deaths:20 (Civilian to Combatant ratio of 4 to 20) H/T Challah Hu Akbar

Average civilian to combatant death ratio in recent conflicts involving the U.S. or NATO forces: 3 to 1 (3 civilian deaths for every one combatant death)

Number of Israeli citizens who spent the weekend on high alert, with alarm sirens regularly warning people to rush to bomb shelters: Over 1 million

Who has been responsible for most of the rocket attacks on Israeli civilians? Popular Resistance Committee and Islamic Jihad. (both funded by Iran, and the former controlled by Hamas)

Stated goals of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Popular Resistance Committees: The destruction of Israel.

Most cynical and cruel Palestinian attack since Friday not reported by the Guardian: Kerem Shalom incident

(Two vehicles en-route to delivering humanitarian goods to the Gaza Strip were struck by three mortars on Monday morning close to the Kerem Shalom crossing. Activity at the crossing was only temporarily suspended, with the decision made to continue operations at the crossing. Despite escalating rocket fire in recent days, the Kerem Shalom and Erez crossings continued to function, with over 180 trucks with aid transferred to Gaza on Sunday.)

Finally, here are the photos and headlines which accompanied the eight Guardian stories:

Guardian-style “relative calm” in Israel continues, 130 rockets fired from Gaza in last 30 hours

The latest Guardian/AP stories on violence in Israel’s south are typical of such reports on terror from Gaza, which typically achieve the following (in the headline, text and photos): A blurring of cause and effect; Characterizing Israeli targeting of terrorists who are planning (or about to launch) attacks as “an escalation”; An emphasis on the deaths of Palestinian “militants”; And severely downplaying the Gaza rocket fire and resulting Israeli casualties.

First, Israel kills leader of Palestinian militants behind Shalit kidnapping, March 9:

The report begins:

An Israeli airstrike has killed the commander of the militant group behind the abduction of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier who was held captive for more than five years and freed in a prisoner swap for more than 1,000 Palestinians.

The midday attack marked the highest profile Israeli strike against the coastal strip in several months and immediately set off a violent escalation after a period of relative calm. [emphasis added]

Later in the piece (five passages down) we learn that Zuhair al-Qaissi, the commander of the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committee, was targeted due to IDF intelligence that his group was planning a combined terror attack that was to take place via Sinai in the coming days, but the headline would lead you to believe the attack was revenge for the Shalit kidnapping.

According to the IDF, the planned terror attack was apparently going to include infiltration into Israel at several locations, the planting of explosive devices, and a possible abduction.

About that “relative calm”: As of Friday, when the Guardian/AP story was posted, there had been over 90 rockets launched from Gaza into Israel in the previous 69 days. (See our blog’s rocket counter on the left side of the page for frequent updates.)

By what conceivable standard would such an assault be considered “relative calm”?

Today, the Guardian had a new story, At least 15 killed in Israeli air strikes on Gaza“:

The story begins by noting that “Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip have killed at least 15 people in an escalation of the worst clashes with Palestinian militants so far this year” [emphasis added], while barely noting that all those killed were terrorists – a civilian to combatant ratio of 0:15

Remarkably, nowhere in latest update is it reported that eight Israelis were injured (one critically) by shrapnel caused by the Hamas rocket fire. In the Eshkol Regional Council, a 40-year-old man was seriously injured from rocket shrapnel, a second man was moderately injured by shrapnel in his stomach, and a third was lightly injured. Paramedics said the injured were foreign workers.

Nor, does the Guardian find it worth reporting that more than 500,000 Israelis are currently forced to stay in bomb shelters.

since Friday, 130 rockets were fired into Israel, into the cities of Ashdod, Be’ersheba, Yavne, Netivot and Ashkelon; as well as into the Eshkol and Shaár Ha’Negev regional councils.

As I finished writing the last sentence, my wife told me she just got off the phone with our Aunt and Uncle in Ashkelon to see if they were okay, and, that the call had to be cut short due to the rocket sirens which went off in the city as they were talking, forcing them to go to the bomb shelter in the building.  

Damage caused by rockets fired from Gaza